Tuesday, 7 May 2013



For my interviewees, I selected a dance teacher and a primary school teacher.  Because this course is a transition for me, and the focus of my inquiry relates to teaching in general, I felt it would be a useful exercise to interview teachers from differing disciplines.

I prepared for the interviews by reading the Reader’s advice on interviewing, and also the chapter on interviewing and conducting interviews in Judith Bells' "Doing your Research Project".

As this was only a pilot, I decided to make it informal and relaxed. I adapted the questions I used on my survey.

Do you set class rules?
D.T. Absolutely, I believe it is important that students know the boundaries right from the start.
P.T. First lesson – I set out the rules and the consequences of rule breaking.  It is important to me that pupils know the boundaries.

Do you involve students in setting class rules?
D.T. Yes, I make a point of sitting down with the students and together we draw up a list of rules for our dance class.
P.T.  Before the start of the lesson, I ask the pupils what they want to get from the lesson and how we can create an environment to make this happen. I like to get them thinking and creating the rules that we will apply.

Do you explain the importance of rules to your students and let them know the consequences of breaking them?
D.T. Yes, we set out our rules and the impact of rule breaking on each other, for example talking when others are trying to listen. How would that make you feel if you were the teacher? And how would that feel if you couldn't hear what the teacher was trying to say? We outline the consequences of our actions, for example if you run about and don’t listen you get a warning and then the next time, you have to sit on your own for 5 minutes.
P.T.  I explain that the rules are set in place to create the best possible working atmosphere meaning we get more covered in lesson. If they break the rules they are fully aware that there will be consequences, from not being allowed to take part in the activity to an after school detention.

Do you encourage your students to get to know each other?
D.T.  The first few lessons, we have team building games.  I think this is really important as students need to feel secure, valued and accepted in the class.
P.T. Yes, it is important and I usually start the lesson with a inclusive activity to encourage pupil interaction.

Do you think it is important to set students tasks that are achievable or tasks that challenge?
D.T. Both. Students need to be challenged, but equally they need to feel that they are achieving goals and feel comfortable with their learning.  I try to look at every student as an individual and set tasks that challenge them at a level I think they can cope with.  It is all about experimenting and getting to know your students.
P.T. Both. When I do a lesson plan I have my main aim that all the pupils will hopefully achieve from the lesson, but then I have an extension that will challenge the students. It then falls down to the students on how much they push themselves. The opportunity for them to develop the skills further is there but the ground work for the basic level is covered.

Do you reward students when they succeed?
D.T. I reward students with praise for good behaviour. I feel it is important to establish a positive learning environment.
P.T.  Yes, we have a merit system in school. I think it is important to reward pupils, it gives them a sense of achievement

Do you give immediate feedback to your students?
D.T. Yes, I believe that students need to be constantly reassured that they are doing the right thing.  I aim to always keep it positive.
P.T. Yes I try as I walk around to talk to pupils and give encouragement and support.  I like to praise good work immediately to keep them motivated and on task.

Question specifically aimed at the boys in your class:

What do you believe motivates boys?
D.T. Being interested in the topic, also having friends who are interested in the topic.  Lots and lots of praise
P.T. An interest in the subject.  The trick is finding a way to spark the interest.  Having a teacher who is excited about the topic is one of the most important aspects of a successful lesson.

What do you believe are the barriers to teaching boys?
D.T. Boys can be easily distracted and it is difficult when you have others in the class, boys only want to do what they want to do, the boys in my class find it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time, they want to be playing, moving around.
P.T. Boys are so easily distracted, they succumb to peer pressure from others, fidget, can’t still still for long and have short attention spans.

What strategies do you use to use to inspire boys to learn?
D.T.  Allow them the freedom to move around.  I always have a good warm-up session.  I use competition, i.e. ‘who can jump the highest’.  I use pictures and videos to encourage them.
P.T. I try to show my passion for the topic. I plan beforehand.  I use pictures and videos, demonstrations and hands on activities as I know that boys are kinesthetic learners.  I try to use short engaging activities. I praise and reward good behaviour.

What do you think is the best learning environment for boys?
D.T. Somewhere that they can move, explore and play.  Boys work well with guidelines and boundaries, so somewhere that they know the rules.
P.T. An environment where they feel valued, where they feel they are able to contribute to the lesson. Lots of different learning activities.  A classroom that is visual, displays, pictures etc.

On reflection, I found the experience of interviewing very rewarding.  I gained such a lot from both interviewees about teaching and creating the right atmosphere for learning.  I do think it would be useful to video the interviews, as it would enable me to concentrate on the respondents answers and also observe body language etc. I intend to trial this.  I can see that it will be difficult to analyse data from interviews, but will research strategies for coding and blog. 

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